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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Poverty before God

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St. James’s letter makes clear that distinction and factions are not allowed in God’s house, at least not when judged by worldly standards. 

All the poor are heirs of the kingdom of God as much as we are, if not more.

We ourselves must make ourselves poor in order to receive the Eucharist worthily. Not necessarily materially poor, for even the rich have a place to worship at the altar of God that St. James describes, although Jesus does say if you forsake earthly things you will gain heavenly ones. But really we must be poor in a different way to receive the Eucharist - poor in spirit. It is the hungry who are filled with good things, the blessed Mother tells us in her Magnificat.
Pope St. Leo the Great: When Christ says “blessed are the poor in spirit,” he shows that the kingdom of heaven is to be given to those who are distinguished by their humility of so rather than by their lack of worldly goods.  Spiritual poverty is first and foremost a type of humility.  We must be humble before God to realize we need God and all the other blessings of life that He freely showers upon us.

Think about this: how many Pharisees and scribes were healed by Jesus? I don’t think any are mentioned in the Gospels. That's because they weren’t able to express their need, to acknowledge their poverty.  The one Pharisee I know who was healed by Christ was Saint Paul, who first had to be blinded by Christ.  The Lord had to break him down so that he could raise him up.  He had to make him poor in a certain way, in the way that was most important to Paul, so that he could realize his need.  Not only was he blinded, he was told by the Lord Jesus that he, Paul, was persecuting Him, that he, Paul, was doing exactly what God did not want him to do: consenting to the killing and arresting of Christians.

Like Paul, If we aren't humbled, we will be humiliated.  Which ultimately, it taken properly, will be something that saves us.  Pride is the worst of sins.  Thinking we don't need God or others, or that we have earned all our blessings on our own.

Perhaps this is one of the blessings that God is offering to the Church in the U.S. and other parts of the world that are suffering through current events.  It seems God is reminding us of our poverty, stripping us of any ability to rely on our own powers.  In the first days of his papacy, Pope Francis cried out, "Oh how I wish the Church to be poor and for the poor."  Not materially poor only, but poor in spirit and grounded in true humility.  Indeed, God is answering our Holy Father's cry from the heart, and it is a mercy and a grace.  Amen. God's will be done.  

We must be like that dry thirsty ground spoken of in the first reading.  For it is then that God can transform us, make us whole, and heal us.

May we receive the same poverty of spirit in our hearts so that God can truly work in us.  May we be small like Therese, and may our little deeds, our little flowers in God's garden, be noticed and smiled upon by Our Loving God.

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